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Defining “Science”

What is “science”? How is “science” different from “pseudoscience”? How are they different from a body of knowledge that is “not science”? When is a body of knowledge “nonsense”? The following analysis is original. For the first time these terms are distinguished and clarified absolutely.

Note: The first tactic in identifying the solution to a problem is to define the words we use. In doing so, we must assign just one meaning to each word.

Leading dictionaries and encyclopedias differ in their treatment of the word “science.” As a result, no two definitions are identical. However, four key components are mentioned among them.

Note: For a quick reference, here is the Wikipedia Definition of “science.”

The 4 Components of “Science”

  1. A body of knowledge exists, and it is organized and systematically arranged.
    (If not organized and arranged, the data are just a collection of random facts.)

  2. Hypotheses are formed and tested by way of experiment.
    (Hypotheses proven false are discarded or modified and tested again.)

  3. General laws and principles exist.
    (They have been deduced from the data.)

  4. General laws and principles explain the data and make accurate predictions.
    (General laws and principles are useful and appear correct.)

By combining all 4 components, we arrive at one comprehensive universal definition:

“A science is a body of knowledge organized and systematically arranged from forming and testing hypotheses by way of experiment, and where deduced general laws and principles explain the data, enabling practitioners to make accurate predictions consistently.”

Forming a precise definition is empowering. We can distinguish “science” from “pseudoscience,” and what is “not science,” what is “false science” and what is “nonsense.” See the chart below for a visual representation of the criteria that differentiates the various possible bodies of knowledge.

Defining science and other terms


Depending on which component in “science” is absent results in a specific though previously undefined term. Notice the term “Failed Science” is distinguished from “False Science” (pseudoscience). The term “Failed Science” is necessary to identify a body of knowledge that is systematically arranged by way of hypotheses and experimentation but general laws and principles are absent.

Note: Besides confirming the definition of “science,” our exercise demonstrates the power of defining the words we use. “Definition” is the first way to identifying the solution to a problem, and the fastest way to clarity and understanding.

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